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February 11, 2009

Emmaus Student Ministries - Vision 2009

Every year (at least in theory) our church holds a Vision Banquet.  The staff prepares a meal to sort of say "thank you" to all the people who make it possible for the church to function!  We also do some musical worship and each staff member gets up to talk a little bit about where our minsitries  have come in the past year or so and where we want to go in the coming year.  This is the handout I used for ESM.

            Vision  - The official mission of Student Ministries at Emmaus is “To empower students to fully know and experience the freedom of a life devoted to Jesus Christ.”  We hope that students would always have a good time when they come to our gatherings, but have always made it our first priority to ensure that we focus on more than just entertainment.  That idea is foundational to every decision we have made since I started leading almost four years ago.  We want students to feel welcomed when they visit for the first time, and whether it is their first or fiftieth time, that they would be challenged to deeper levels of intimacy with Jesus Christ.


            Small Groups - We felt that the best way to challenge students was through gender-specific small groups that meet on a weekly basis.  This has been our focus since I started leading ESM in 2005, and we feel strongly that the most growth and development will happen in that context.  However, we struggled to develop a cohesive ministry because the small groups met at various locations and at times that worked best for the students.  Changes had to happen if we were going to start building some unity and being able to function well as a ministry.


            A lot of time was spent in prayer, and the decision was made to move the boys’ small group to meet on Sunday nights, which is when the girls were meeting, and both groups would start meeting at St. Matthew’s.  The students began to arrive at 6:30 and spend the first half-hour just hanging out and talking about our weeks.  Around 7:00, the guys and girls would split up for Bible study and prayer time.  Every six weeks or so, rather than splitting off into small groups, all the students stayed together for a large group time.  I’ve been teaching through a series called H.A.B.I.T.S. which focuses on key spiritual habits that are important for Christians to develop, like quiet times, tithing and scripture study. 


            Large Groups - While the small groups are crucial to what we do, the past three years have taught me that it might not be the best method to reach all students.  The groups are very intimate, and allow for in-depth study and community, but what about students who either haven’t chosen to follow Jesus yet, or aren’t at a place in their spiritual life for that kind of setting?  Many students are simply not ready for the challenges that a properly functioning small group provides.  Over the past year, God has been stirring in my heart to create a safe place for those students also, and in 2009, that stirring will become reality for Emmaus Student Ministries with the start of a weekly large group meeting. 

            Our small groups will not meet this summer, and instead, all the students will stay together for a large group meeting.  Then when school starts again in the fall, the large group will continue meeting weekly, and small groups will begin meeting at times and locations that are convenient to the students and the small-group leader.  At large group, students will experience skits, games, relevant teaching, musical worship and tons of opportunities to interact with God.  Our small groups are still the key to the ministry, and as students progress in their faith journey, we will work to plug them into a small group where they can continue to grow through community and discipleship.


            Opportunities! - There are a number of opportunities for you to get involved with Student Ministries.  As a co-leader of a small group, you can help foster a sense of community and prayer, while helping students dig into scripture.  In large group, you can help lead music, run PowerPoint, organize games and activities, or just help to make kids feel welcome as they start to arrive.  Perhaps you like to arrange fun outings like Rockies games, lock-ins or Water World trips.  Where you feel passionate - there is a need with our students.  If you like students, I would love to talk about how you can play an important role in Student Ministries.